herald

Monday 1 September 2014

Oxegen: Mud, sweat and beers

Festival diary: Herald man Kevin Doyle went to his first ever Oxegen over the weekend. Here he tells us about his adventures and misadventures over the three days at Ireland's biggest musical festival.

Friday

Somewhat shockingly, I've never been to Oxegen before, or Witness as it was called when I was 16. But adopting a better late than never approach, I headed for Guiney's to pick up a pair of wellies and armed with sunglasses in one hand and an umbrella in the other, I was on my way.

Almost 70pc of party-goers used public transport over the weekend so joining the masses I used the Park and Ride facility which shipped us to the Oxegen city with the minimum of fuss.

By the time I arrived, more than 30,000 music fans had already braved their first night on one of the campsites.

And on Friday morning, there were a lot of tired looking heads. But the first beers of the day were already being washed down by the second. "It helps the breakfast to go down," shouts one camper holding a can of Bulmers and a ham sandwich he'd bought in the 24-hour Centra.

Queues gathered outside the main arena for hours before the gates were finally opened at 3pm. The weeks of rain that preceded Oxegen meant most people were prepared for a mud bath but it didn't transpire on opening night.

Puddles

After hours of walking around on wood chippings and grassy paths, I had a serious urge to jump in a puddle, but there weren't any.

A pedometer tells me that by the time Kings of Leon left the stage, I had walked 15 km.

Not bad for a first day of welly wearing since a transition year school tour to the ploughing championship more than half a decade ago. Going home, my wellies were still pristine green -- not very rock and roll.

Saturday

I take it all back. Call her what you want, a nut job, a head case, Amy Wino, whatever ... she was just amazing. It was the question everybody was asking on Saturday morning. Will she show? And if she does, what will happen?

REM and Kaiser Chiefs may have been the headline acts but the person everybody wanted to see was Amy. Whether it was because they thought she was a car crash waiting to happen or because they actually like her music, she attracted the biggest crowd of the weekend.

"This doesn't feel right, I want some mud," my friend said about five minutes before the clouds eventually did what they had threatened to do for the previous 24 hours.

When it poured, it poured. Having become over confident after yesterday's reasonable weather, I made the mistake of leaving my umbrella at home, a very bad idea on my part.

So as one does in the rain at a concert, I retired to the bar where drinks were being served in eco cups.

At €3 a pop, it was cleaning out my pocket too. In theory the reusable cups are a great idea. You pay the €3 deposit with your first drink and then bring your cup back for a refill every time.

However, there has to be some argument that it is taking advantage of punters. Imagine giving someone a pint glass in a nightclub and asking them to mind it all night, while on the dance floor, while in the toilets and while jumping up and down. Then imagine that the nightclub is in a massive field and there are 80,000 people there.

Needless to say I paid more than one €3 deposit and won't be seeing that money again.

On the bright side, the €5 pint, actually had 500mls, slightly more than a pint.

Sunday

Sunday is actually sun-day. We've had everything now, clouds, fog, drizzle, downpours and eventually scorching sunshine. After getting drowned yesterday, I brought my umbrella today and left the sunscreen at home. I'm really struggling to get to grips with this festival weather.

But the sunshine really brought out the stars today. Backstage everybody was in great form with the Republic of Loose giving an impromptu performance for around 30 journalists. In general though, the only place to hear music was in the main arena.

How do you entertain some of the world's biggest and greatest music legends? With Karaoke and mini-golf of course. Amazingly on Sunday afternoon the majority of party people are still going. There is a lot more sitting down today as people soak up the sun and the music but there is the odd bit of madness too.

Excitement

Away from the mainstage MGMT seemed to be the biggest attraction of the day but some people got a little bit too excited. One girl actually managed to climb all the way up the big top rigging and was hanging around 50 metres above spectators when the music had to be stopped. There's no point in pretending otherwise, there were people who drank too much and there were people popping pills. But for the majority of the 80,000 fans, it was an epic weekend.

And so Oxegen is over. With a sore head, sore feet, the sound of The Pigeon Detectives ringing in my ears and a ridiculous amount of hot dogs being digested in my stomach, it's back to reality. As The Saw Doctors might say, we gave it welly.

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